Grace, A Leader's Guide to a Better Us, by John Baldoni, IndigoIndigo River Publishing 2019
While grace is a word we hear and use infrequently, often only in a spiritual context, author John Baldoni, an executive coach and leadership educator, has witnessed the power of grace in the best of the best business leaders. He believes that grace is key to building organizations. But grace can be a difficult concept to understand.
Baldoni explains that great leaders set the right example by putting others first, treating them with dignity, showing compassion, being humble, and challenging themselves and others to work for the great good. His examples of leaders working with grace include Stephen M. R. Covey, Alan Mulally, Skip Prichard, and Sally Helgesen, Aretha Franklin and Fred Rogers, Lou Gehrig and Franklin Roosevelt. "No leader," he says, "accomplishes anything by himself or herself. They need the cooperation of others to succeed."
But turning the focus from being a self-interested, driven winner, to someone who thinks about others does not come naturally. Baldoni suggests practicing these habits until they become second nature:
1. Think positively as a means of doing positively for others
2. Look for ways to be kind to others, without expecting anything in return
3. Seek understanding before passing judgment
4. Know that the search for motive can be an excuse for finding blame
5. Determine the needs of others as a means of discovering purpose
6. Look to promote what is good and dispense with what is harmful.
Of all the legends Baldoni cites as models for our grace transformation, Fred Rogers remains one of my favorites. But, says Baldoni, "Rogers was no pushover. When PBS canceled his show, there was an uproar... Rogers himself testified to Congress about the intention of his show as well as the impact it was having on children who watched it. PBS relented and put the show back on the air." Fred Rogers' appeal to children and some adults was driven by his compassion and the argument he made to the PBS decision-makers drew on his honest compassionate messages. Other leaders might have solved the show problem bombastically, but Mr. Rogers persisted and won.
A great book for discussion groups, Grace readers will enjoy and use the questions-for-further-thought section at the end of each chapter. The author manages to make a fuzzy difficult subject - grace - into one that will inspire and clarify.
Patricia E. Moody
FORTUNE magazine "Pioneering Woman in Mfg"
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